It is against my better judgement to go out on a limb like this, especially this early in fall camp. But, there have been enough behind the scenes talk about these three guys that I feel compelled to say I believe they are going to play as true freshman.
In deciding the three, I wanted to choose players that showed up on campus in June and not the January enrollees. The latter had a big leg up on their competition and a full spring to learn the play book, drills, and work out under the guidance of a college strength and conditioning staff.
So, I chose three of the 12 guys that arrived in late summer and remember some of the 12 were expected to play. In my opinion, these three weren’t but I would be surprised if we don’t see them this season.
Jawaan Taylor is a massive offensive lineman from Cocoa and was high school teammates with fellow freshman Chauncey Gardner. While Gardner falls in the category of freshmen we expect to see and arrived early on campus in January, Taylor showed up in mid-June with actually a little bit of fanfare as well.
Taylor as a prospect was a bit overweight and the Florida staff asked him to push himself and lose a bit of weight and they would eventually offer. At well over 370 pounds, Taylor didn’t move well enough when he camped at Florida in the summer of 2015. The big man did push himself.
Now Taylor weighs in at 340 pounds and looks good at that weight. He has changed his body so much that the staff asked him to move from guard to tackle even before he arrived on campus.
Taylor also has maybe the hardest punch on the team and has been a force in the trenches in early practice sessions. The only thing that appears to be holding him back is just the lack of knowledge in the system and being comfortable with what he is doing out there just yet. By all accounts, he will now push hard for the right tackle position and challenge Fredrick Johnson for that spot.
From having to wait on a scholarship offer to now pushing to start, Taylor would definitely be a surprise here and moving forward won’t be.
Vosean Joseph was one of the early commitments in the 2016 class. Joseph, from a mega power high school program in Miami was a bit under-publicized as a prospect and maybe some of that had to do with him committing so early. He’s got good size already so the physical part of the game is already there.
He’s a head hunter and a guy that knows how to tackle once he has his eyes set on the ball carrier. Joseph will start out at outside linebacker but the feeling is that he will grow into a middle linebacker. He has that kind of instincts to play in traffic.
He has been turning heads early in practice and the expectation level for him playing has risen considerably.
Maybe Jeawon Taylor is a player you wouldn’t expect to be on this list, but the freshman from Alabama has some hurdles to cross in terms of older guys and guys that have been here before him in order to get on the field. It certainly isn’t about talent.
When watching the few minutes we get to see of the team at practice, Taylor stands out with his size at safety, but also his athleticism, which is probably a bit underrated if that is possible from a previous four-star high school prospect.
Despite Nick Washington, Marcus Maye, Marcell Harris, and even Chauncey Gardner ahead of him on the depth chart to start fall camp, Taylor has been so impressive that he is a guy that will see the field in his freshman year. With the apparent injury to fellow freshman safety Quincy Lenton, it makes him playing even more apparent, but the expectation is for him to do well as a freshman.
This piece was supposed to be about four players, but while writing it we learned of the injury to cornerback C.J. McWilliams which appears to be a season ending one. Our understanding is that McWilliams, despite a rather thin frame, was playing well above where they anticipated and would have gotten some time on the field.